Feeling down? Alone? You're not alone. Might as well celebrate with Dog Orchestra's "Pity Party.”

"Maybe if you stopped feeling so sorry for yourself you'd be more… successful," intones a carbonite voice, ripped straight from an answering machine tape over a fuzzy warbling synth, in the first few moments of "Pity Party." The message is bleak, downhearted, dis-spirited, yet the music sounds oddly… hopeful, albeit a bit aged. A simple machine drum beat, soaked in cavernous echo, rides behind Dog Orchestra's rich, warm brogue, as the singer speaks on his friend's schadenfreude.

This duality strikes at the heart of Dog Orchestra's shadowed, sun-dappled universe. They hail from Stockholm, Sweden - a land of extreme polarities. The sun barely sets during the summer yet they're frozen in darkness for half the year. Perhaps this explains how the same city gave us Abba, the A-Teens, Opeth, and Entombed.

Swedish Pop Music knows how to put a shiny veneer on human suffering. Even at its darkest, it seems to float 3 inches above the permafrost. Maybe Stockholm residents hold on to the memory of the sun to help them through the long, dark winter.

Dog Orchestra seem to have internalized that tactic, learning how to transform the lead of human sorrow and suffering into pure pop gold. This is pop from the dark side, however, built more for goth clubs than Top 40 nights. The melody and catchiness are there, don't get us wrong, but they're dipped into cottony fuzz. The end result sounds like some long lost Culture Club single, perhaps, or The Cure's synthpop on a cheery day.



"Pity Party" raises an interesting question for those of us who like somber music. Does it still count as sad music if it makes us happy? Is it still "dark" if we enjoy it? These are some of the paradoxes of those with a gothier disposition. Dog Orchestra remind us that, no matter what, music is always there for you! We Are: The Guard recommend cranking this one the next time you're feeling down. It's hard to feel sad when you're losing yourself on the dancefloor.


J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.